The Provincial Grand Lodge of Somerset was opened in due form by Ben Batley, Deputy Provincial Grand Master In Charge, at 11.00 a.m. on Wednesday 26th October 2022 at the Webbington Hotel, Loxton, Somerset.
The occasion was called in order to install Ray Guthrie as Provincial Grand Master (PGM) for the Province of Somerset.
A unique event, always, but made even more special due to a couple of very unusual circumstances in this case…
Firstly, the Installing and Presiding Officer, from The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) was David Medlock DL, himself having been the Provincial Grand Master for Somerset since April 2019 and until his recent and much-celebrated promotion to Assistant Grand Master on 14th September 2022. The successor therefore being Installed by his predecessor which, at this level, is all but unheard of!
Secondly, in May this year, Ray had also been Installed as the Grand Superintendent of Royal Arch Masonry, making him now the Principal Officer of both Craft and Royal Arch Masonry in Somerset.
Thirdly, Ray was very pleased to able to reappoint his son, Tony, as one of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, alongside Richard Winter, both of whom had been previously appointed to that office by David Medlock whilst he was Provincial Grand Master. Ben Batley, who opened the proceedings, was also reappointed as Deputy Provincial Grand Master.
Any one of these situations would have been really quite unusual in isolation, but for all three to occur together really made this occasion extra special.
Around 460 Brethren were in attendance of which nearly 290 remained to dine after the Installation Meeting.
Ten Rulers from neighbouring Provinces were also in attendance, in the persons of Ian Kingsbury (Devonshire), Tim Henderson-Ross (Gloucestershire), Jonathan David (Bristol), Roger Pemberton (Shropshire), Michael Holland (Herefordshire), A. James Ross (West Wales), Jonathan Whitaker (Hampshire and Isle of Wight), D. Gerald Rowbottom (South Wales), John Reid (Wiltshire) and Roger Cargeeg, Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge (Cornwall).
Three other Past Provincial Grand Masters of Somerset were also present - Stanley Hopkins, David Jenkins and Stuart Hadler.
Ray’s Installation was completed in an exemplary manner, ably assisted and coordinated by Charles Hopkinson-Woolley, UGLE’s Grand Director of Ceremonies, together with his team of four assisting officers.
Ray then made an insightful address to the meeting, outlining his appointment and also his intention to oversee the consolidation and increase of membership numbers in Somerset, as well as further strengthening the link between the Craft and Royal Arch Masonic Orders.
Proceedings were brought to a conclusion after lunch with the traditional toasts and responses, which further highlighted Somerset’s reputation as a happy, effective and fun-loving Province. Long may that continue!
The Brethren of Somerset wish Ray many happy and successful years at the helm.